- A unique opportunity to lead high-impact scientific and social impact
- Remote work with travel (~10%) to Guatemala
- Salary range: $130-150,000
- Competitive benefits package
Semilla Nueva is recruiting a remote, Breeding Director to oversee the strategic development of our high zinc and QPM biofortified maize breeding program. This position will provide high-level direction, define clear objectives and enable the growth and success of a ten-person R&D team working in Guatemala to create new biofortified maize hybrids, backcross biofortified traits into highly competitive conventional materials, and oversee partnerships working towards trait discovery and eventually advanced trait introgression strategies. This position will review trial results and manage our breeding pipelines, collaborate with our technology partners, advisory board and corporate partners on strategy development and new projects, and visit Guatemala to improve the protocols and breeding systems implemented by our field and lab teams. This position will be a member of Semilla Nueva’s leadership team, contributing to creation of strategy, culture, and organizational direction.
Summary of the Organization
Malnutrition is one of the greatest barriers to the world’s poorest people escaping poverty. The 900 million people in Africa and Central America who eat corn daily are some of the most affected, with nearly half of Guatemala’s children suffering from stunted growth. Semilla Nueva launched the world’s first social enterprise dedicated to the development, production, and sale of more nutritious, biofortified corn seed directly to small farming families. Efforts of our R&D to date have clearly demonstrated our ability to improve human nutritional quality while also improving the agronomic and yield performance of our maize hybrids while also building a solid platform to enable accelerated growth and impact of our R&D efforts. Farmers buying our seed increase their yields and incomes, while improving the diets of hundreds of thousands— and someday millions—of the world’s poorest consumers. With the success of this pilot, Semilla Nueva expanded its model to work with other seed companies, the Guatemalan government, and partnerships in other countries. In this new phase, with the support of our funders and collaborators we are providing germplasm free of charge to other seed companies and subsidizing them to sell biofortified seed at prices accessible to farmers normally not reached by the market. In 2022, our fifth year promoting biofortified maize, our seed reached 20,500 families, improving the nutrition of nearly 600,000 people.
To expand the competitiveness of biofortified maize and enable the expansion of this new model, Semilla Nueva has built a breeding program which has successfully introgressed traits for zinc and iron into highly competitive conventional germplasm and developed biofortified hybrids competitive with the best seeds on the Guatemalan market. We run our own lab doing nutritional analysis of 400-600 maize samples per week, and our internal testing network consists of 5-8,000 plots per year. We contract genotyping services and have begun partnerships with the corporate social responsibility programs of leading international seed and genetics companies to discover the genes for zinc, iron, and protein quality traits. We plan to use this information to develop a strategy for more cost-effective trait introgression techniques in order to make possible the mainstreaming of these biofortified traits.
- PhD with some experience or MSc with at least 5 years’ experience in crop breeding or related field
- Experience with breeding-related operations including program design, field experimentation, data management, trial analysis & interpretation, grain and seed lab management and nursery/seed production
- Experience with strategy development and planning/optimization for conventional or genomics-based breeding programs, as well as trait introgression
- Data analysis abilities
- Strong verbal and written communication skills
- Fluent Spanish
- Experience in trait research and discovery
- Experience leading breeding efforts in maize
- Project and collaboration management
- Ability to work independently, proactively, and prioritize/coordinate a variety of activities
- Ability to build and motivate teams/collaborations
- Ability to represent organizational values and develop strategy in a senior leadership role
- Ability to work effectively in a multicultural team
- Ability to work remotely
- Strong commitment to lifelong learning and teaching
- Comfortable working in a fast-paced, constantly evolving work environment
- Breeding pipeline and program improvement
- Work with our R&D team to optimize our biofortified hybrid development program and backcross pipeline. Semilla Nueva is currently creating over 1,000 new hybrids per year for Central America and backcrossing 5-12 new lines per year for Central America and Sub-saharan Africa. Review nutrition phenotyping and field results in order to increase the efficiency of both programs, provide guidance on seasonal advancement decisions, enable collaboration opportunities and to research and incorporate new systems and tools to improve germplasm and data management.
- Discovery and advanced strategies for biofortified trait introgression
- Work with third-party companies, research centers, and our board of advisers to coordinate gene discovery and breeding implementation for biofortified traits based on Semilla Nueva’s germplasm, phenotypic information and third-party genotyping and/or data-enabled breeding services. Use this information and partnerships with our advisory board and third-party partners to develop funding proposals for advanced trait introgression and breeding strategies. Work with Semilla Nueva’s leadership and advisers to present them to donors and coordinate their launch.
- Creation and leadership of new projects
- Lead the research, evaluation, and implementation of new breeding projects with potential to expand Semilla Nueva’s existing program geographically and in dimensions of value addition. This may include research into low-phytate maize, maize color modification, and others novel traits with significant potential impact for global health.
To apply please send your CV and a brief, 2-4 bullet point explanation of why you think you may be a good fit for us, and why we may be a good fit for you. Please send to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject, Breeding Director and your last name.